Shadow-work and Dark Night of the Soul
Navigate the deep Soul-Searching phases. Never easy but hugely fruitful
What is Shadow-Work? (often leading to ‘Dark Night of the Soul)
Shadow work is, as it’s name suggests, time to look, analyse and dissect the darker side of who you are, the parts of ourselves we never like to recognise. You will absolutely know when you are in your dark night of the Soul.
It’s never pretty and throws up a lot of curveballs, but it’s not designed to be a breeze; scraping the depths of your soul and existence helps to sort the wheat from the chaff of who you are.
Know one thing: the rewards are great, hang in there.
Here are the stages:
1) Shock, Confusion and Shaky Foundations:
Discomfort starts, often after a shock, pain, un-expected or unmanageable incident:
- life markers and ‘anchors’ dissolve ie what you saw in life as true, stable and concrete starts to appear fragile. This can be your lifestyle, beliefs, perceptions, desires, relationships, trust of those around you
- hobbies and activities are no longer enjoyable
- you feel disconnected and mis-understood by friends and family members
- previous job you loved no longer creates any interest for you
- conversations and usual interests may seem meaningless and dull
2) Deeper Questioning:
leads to deeper crumbling of previous ‘perceived reality’;
- the ego and identity is stripped back at this stage leading to vulnerability,
- review and reflection upon actions, relationships, intentions, larger impact upon the world
- dissection of automatic and conditioned behaviour; habits, patterns and external expectations we thought belonged to us and made us who we are.
- deep analysis of what is/isn’t YOU; what was inherited from family, conditioned from environments (school, media, peers) etc.
- often a quiet, reclusive, reflective stage requiring little external stimuli eg no tv, no input from others, little conversation
3) SOUL Searching:
Dissection deepens creating NEW realisations;
- this is the SOUL SEARCHING level where layers of illusion stripped away until you are feeling raw and have only the (uncomfortable) truth.
- identity is shaken to the core challenging you to find the REAL truth of what is YOURS, what is important to YOU
- moving away from innocent and helpless framing of blame, denial, victim mentality and the 'poor me's'
- shift in consciousness into a realisation that you are both a creator and conspirator of your own life. No-one else pulls the strings without your consent
- take back responsibility and ownership of everything that happens to you, by you
- moving out of mind/ego into sincere, heart-felt living
- questioning why you are here?, what are your life goals?, what is the meaning of life?, what holds value to you?
3a) This can often lead to the ‘Dark night of the Soul’
-identity stripped back to the bare bones and we question everything; our existence, the meaning of life, our values and intentions upon the world
-we have nothing familiar to hold onto or anchor to,
- our entire reality is up for questioning
- ruthless and fearless anchoring the truth; the consequences of inviting anything but the truth back into our lives feels perilous.
- this stage is best navigated by being be hugely mindful; don’t think too far ahead nor too far back. Apply gentle, tender self care and if possible rest. Don’t act impulsively.
Acute dis-connection is lifting; new-found conscious connection
- higher states of consciousness
- active connection and living life with the SOUL and SOURCE of who YOU are,
- no longer driven by your past: you are actively recognising and living who you REALLY are outside of your upbringing, family, job, roles we adopt etc.
- greater humanitarian slant to living, working and contributing to the world
- new lease of life
- often new career direction
- greater compassion
- desire for more self care practices eg meditation, healthy eating, deeper, sincere relationships and ongoing pursuit of personal development
- this stage is tiny, tentative steps in new directions anchoring in your insight with a need to live more authentically and with your Soul’s purpose.
- Greater LOVE without Conditions, acceptance of other’s choices
Shadow-work doesn’t just happen once – it’s an ongoing process as we dig deeper into our identity, patterns and remove dense consciousness. It gets easier each time as we familiarise ourselves with it.
The Dark Night of the Soul is NEVER a comfortable experience, feeling more like a living cruxifiction as we destroy rigid and outdated patterns although, always, it’s HUGELY fruitful.
Remember – you are strong enough to withstand the winds of change. This journey takes us back to our core BEING and aligns us with our greatest purpose.